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Darkness (2006 - 2013) - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Darkness (2006 - 2013)Darkness (2006 - 2013)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

2,651 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,651
Reviews: 765
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.56%
Wants: 2,924
Gots: 1,032 | FT: 72
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Starting in 2014, Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels.

Labels:

2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness (2006 - 2013) Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,651 | Reviews: 765 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of 0110x011
3.6/5  rDev -20%

Pours pitch black into a Darkness snifter. One finger, dark tan head lasts a good while, with spotty lacing. Nose is an interesting mix of chocolate, earth, plum, raisin and piney hops. Surprisingly sweet and fruity on the palate. A bit of chocolate and vanilla, and pine from the hops, but the overall flavor is dominated by an almost cloying, sugary sweetness. Mouthfeel is very nice, creamy and soft. ABV is nearly invisible. The sweetness makes one glass enough for me.

If this were available for $6.99 at BevMo, I'd say it were a tasty, unique beer. But considering the acclaim and rarity, I think it strays too far from the style.

0110x011, Dec 07, 2008
Photo of gorby10826
5/5  rDev +11.1%

By far the best stout I have ever had. Definitely a great one if you like them on the sweet side. Tried at Firkin in Libertyville, IL.

A: Very Dark. Black.

S:Complex, Chocolate, roasted malt, sweetness, fruit

T: Very sweet. Candi sugar. Molasses. Chocolate. Fruit. Hops.

M: Very smooth. Thick. Good level of carbonation.

D: Would drink it all day long if I could! Very easy if you like it sweet.

Overall: Seriously the best I have had in the last 3 years where I have tried hundreds of different beers. Wish I could get it easier!

gorby10826, Dec 06, 2008
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%

I had this on tap at the Local Option, served in a Maudite glass. The beer was dark brown/black color with dark tan froth on top. Lots of wet lacing on the glass. The smell alone tells me this beer isn't over hyped, it smells insanely good. Rich and sweet, no burnt or roasted aromas, maybe some hops citrus but not as much as I'd have expected after hearing how hoppy this beer was last year. The taste is also nearly perfect. Huge malt sweetness, a little bitterness but not much, some citrus flavors too, I can't recall ever tasting a RIS quite like this. The body is substantial while not being as thick as Dark Lord, just about right for the flavors. Absolutely drinkable, the >10% ABV isn't noticeable from the taste. Worth the effort to find, this is great stuff.

1/02/09 edit:
I had this in bottle form, side-by-side against Sexual Chocolate, Dark Lord, and Kate the Great. In this contest Darkness came out the favorite for all 3 drinkers. The citrus flavors were the deciding factor, it seemed like this was a RIS with DIPA genes. I'll plan to attend future Darkness days to get as many bottles as I can.

TurdFurgison, Dec 03, 2008
Photo of caskstrength
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%

On tap over a few weeks in several locations, Mpls Nov 2008.

Thick, black, sticky. Got some on the outside of the glass, was sticking like syrup.

Sweet, spicy, fruity (in a good way) smell. Lots of dark fruit, dark sweetness. More sweet than spicy. Very inviting on the nose.

Did I mention sweet? Alcohol barely noticed. Smooth, velvety, perfect on the tongue. Is there a better mouthfeel than this beer? Hops are there too, for sure. Dark fruits work with the molasses type sweetness. Almost cloying in 2008, less so 2009 (and other years I've heard)

I really like this beer. First impression was it's too sweet, subsequent tastings I started to appreciate the sweetness more, didn't notice it as much. It is what it is. A sweet, flavorful monster of a beer, liquid velvet, and quite the feather in surly's cap.

2009: less sweet, more hops.

2010: May be my favorite of the last 3 years. Flavors all seem in the right place.

caskstrength, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%

2008 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours an inky black body with a large, frothy, light tan head.

Smell: Roasty, burnt malt nose with strong notes of dark chocolate liqueur, coffee, smoky creosote, and pine needles.

Taste: Roasty, dark, chocolaty maltiness displays both depth and richness. A few spoonfuls of frothed cream pairs with a flavor of strong coffee. Bracing amount of sweetness present. Vinous fruity character. Touch of creosote. Strong pine and citrus hoppiness though not unreasonably so. The bitterness makes a decent attempt, but, for me, it doesn't ever even begin to overtake the malt sweetness. Darkness finishes with a strapping roastiness and more unyielding sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Decidedly full-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Excellent melding of full flavors wrapped up in a dense, creamy body. I wasn't disappointed. Nice work, Surly.

ChainGangGuy, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of optiontwo
4.78/5  rDev +6.2%

750 ml bottle acquired at this years darkness day, poured into tulip glass

Appearance: Darkness. Opaque. Beautiful two finger tan head. This is exactly how a RIS should look.

Smell: Wooo. Almost makes me fall back in my seat. Such an array of aromas I don't know where to start. Roasted malt, chocolate, slight coffee, then strong sweetness of fruits ranging everywhere from orange/lemon to strawberry jam and cherries. Amazing.

Taste: This may be the drink of the devil but it tastes like it's straight out of heaven. Dark chocolate, orange, and dark cherries are the first three things that hit me but there is soo much more going on here. Earthy tones and what I have to imagine are hop flavors hit after the initial sweet and roasted flavor. This has got to be the hoppiest imperial stout I've ever had and that's a good thing, a very good thing. The combination of malt sweetness and hop bitterness in this beer make the flavors so complex that each sip is an experience. Outstanding.

Mouthfeel: Perfect. Coats my mouth with the beer but not to the point where it's hard to swallow. The mouthfeel increases the enjoyment of this beer tenfold because it helps the flavors stay in your mouth that much longer. This is also exactly how a RIS should feel.

Drinkability: Surprising. I've had a good amount of imperial stouts and it's one of my favorite styles, but even my favorites test me when it comes to drinkability. I usually want to have more than one or two but can't bring myself to do it. With Darkness though, I could literally drink this all night until I stumble to bed. Very impressive.

Overall: The very best RIS I have ever had. Do whatever you can to get your hands on this miraculous beer. I love Surly.

optiontwo, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of EGledhill
4.85/5  rDev +7.8%

Thought I'd crack this bitch open for a Thanksgiving desert. Split the bottle with the girlfriend. Big thanks for the BA who made this possible. Poured into Darkness snifter.

A. what the fuck would you expect? Dark. 2 finger tan head that faded to a thin ring and laced the glass. Looks say "try and chug me bitch. I'll destroy you."

S. Smell was definitely on point. Vanilla, Chocolate dominate this with a faint hops and booze smell.

T. Taste like some tasty boozed up pudding. Just like the smell, Vanilla and chocolate lead the way. Dark fruit, caramel sweetness, hops and booze hit on the finish. Sweet and tasty.

M. pretty thick. not overly coating like a ten fidy but a damn solid mouthfeel.

D. If I had access to this regularly, you'd have to peel my ass of the bar floor in a darkness induced coma. drinks smooth hit with a bang.

Overall. Believe the hype. It's that fucking good. I try to share my beers with the girlfriend but I wound up taking down half her glass when she walked away from it. I should've never shared with her.

EGledhill, Nov 28, 2008
Photo of nrbw23
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

A- Pours black with very impressive large thick brown colored head. Head has great retention and leaves a nice amount of lacing.

S- First thing I could really pick up on was a citrus like hop smell. Pretty surprised by that and then I could smell chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, dark fruits and a touch of alcohol.

T- Overall quite a few things going on here. Pretty sweet but yet also has some bitterness going on. Starts off with a lot of chocolate and dark fruits and then the hops kick it. Very interesting and could not find any alcohol in here at all.

M- Full in body and pretty chewy. Fairly low in carbonation.

D- It was very easy to drink and highly recommended. This has to be the most hoppy RIS ever made which made this one pretty interesting and different.

nrbw23, Nov 28, 2008
Photo of tedpeer
4.5/5  rDev 0%

2008 Bomber poured into a Darkness tulip.

A - Pours a viscous dark black, with a huge mocha head that subsided to a thin layer. No lacing.

S - Strong dark fruits, sweet.

T - Intense flavor. Fruit. Coffee. Chocolate. slight alcohol warmth in the finish.

M - Thick, mouth coating. Smooth. Lightly carbonated.

D - Very balanced for such a large beer.

tedpeer, Nov 28, 2008
Photo of shroompod
4.05/5  rDev -10%

Pours dark! This has the best head retention of any RIS I've ever seen.

Aroma of citrus hops , dark chocolate and sweet caramel.

This beer is sweet. A lot of dark candy sugar tastes. Molasses, raisins, caramel, and figs. The sweetness comes at the expense of darker flavors I enjoy (coffee, chocolate & bitterness). Hops are their, but somewhat subdued.

Mouthfeel is thick , carbonation is good.

Overall an exceptional RIS that's too sweet for me.

shroompod, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of jjanega08
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%

served at the blue nile in mpls
a= very dark and truely black with a small dark head. looks good and tasty
s= malty bitterness is there with some fruit notes of plum and fig
t= amazing. really gives you a buzz. some hops are actually present with some nice plum flavor. truely unique with the surlys twist to it
m= good and heavy with a dry finish excellent
d= very high except for the wicked buzz you get! amazing beer! this is the first of this style that i have ever had and i was very impressed! it had such a great surlys taste to it of just fresh beer! i love it so much!

jjanega08, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of rtepiak
4.1/5  rDev -8.9%

opaque. wonderful head. chocolate color... thick with little bubbles lots of lace. very high sugar content sticky on the outside of the glass when dries. quite thick. molasses, raisins and toasted apple pie. palate is toasted malt apple caramel sweet. head keeps coming back on agitation. goes down like mead. light hop chive like finish. a wonderful blend of all of this styles capacity but i could see the sweetness being a turn off for some. this may also be an extremely fresh keg. i would really like to see this cellared to bring out the more subtle notes. and i would kill to have it from a cask.

rtepiak, Nov 25, 2008
Photo of phattysbox
4.68/5  rDev +4%

kplynch was kind enough to buy me two bottles at darkness day. We opened one of those bottles and shared among friends. Thanks Kevin!!

Poured into Corsendonk tulip glass. Jet black and very viscous, almost oily in appearance. Thick frothy coffee colored head that slowly retreats into a nice thin lace. Stickage all up and dpown the glass - awesome looking brew and dark indeed.

This is the strangest, but great, brew I have ever had. Part DIPA, porter and mostly RIMP...

Since it is a RIMP, you would expect roasted malts and chocolate in the nose. While its there, initially the brew smells like a west coast DIPA. Sweet floral hops pervade the nose - ripe tropical citrus friut and berries. This is followed by chocolate and vanilla notes. The nose is quite complex.

Tastes a smoothing sweet malt base. Vanilla and oak are very present with coffee and chocolate undertow. Of course the hops - in the back and really balance out the brew quite nicely. It changes however as it warms - reminding me of a porter in some sense. Very complex brew with lots going on. Mouthfeel is wet and velvety with meduim to low carbonation. The only thing I could say about this brew that might be considered negative - is its very sweet. This might be off-putting to some but not to me.

I still can't wrap my head around this brew - quite unique but simply fantastic!!

phattysbox, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of abfraser
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%

Thanks to waltonc for sharing a glass of this one. Cool looking bottle

A: Totally black with a smallish dark brown head.

S: This is some complex stuff. All the classic RIP aromas--roasted malt, chocolate, some coffee. But the real distinguishing factor here was a real dark fruit, almost like a fruitcake.

T/M: Deliciously creamy and full bodied. Great imperial stout flavors. Really like how the dark fruit flavors worked in here; it was very unique for the style. Everything was exceptionally well balanced, with nothing dominating or overpowering.

D: I could drink a lot of ton of this. Yet, I can barely get my hands on it, so it's gets a knock.

This was delicious, complex, and unique. Up there with the best of them.

abfraser, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of waltonc
3.98/5  rDev -11.6%

Picked this up in a trade thanks to bigmar94.

A: Thick, black stout with a big tan head.

S: Dark roasted malts, coffee, and lots of fruit.

T: Again, dark roasted malts, lots of hops, and very sweet fruit flavor going on here. As abfraser said while we were drinking this, it's like a fruitcake stout. Very interesting and unusual taste.

M: Pretty thick and smooth, sticky from all the sugar.

D: Gotta ding Darkness on the drinkability front. I strained to drink a third of this bottle, but pushed myself and got it done. Not sure why it's not offered in smaller bottles. Pretty ridiculous.

waltonc, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of brewcrew76
4.08/5  rDev -9.3%

A - Solid black with 2 fingers of creamy brown head that leaves sticky patchey lacing everywhere.

S - Milk chocolate, slight soy sauce, hints of smoke and roasty malts.

T - Similar to aroma. Milk chocolate, dark fruits, hint of soy sauce and licorice, some smoke and roasted malts.

M - Very creamy but slightly thin. The mouthfeel reminded me of a creamy porter.

D - The lighter body made this one too easy to drink, even at 10%+ ABV. Tasty.

brewcrew76, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of pwoods
4.35/5  rDev -3.3%

On tap at Stub and Herb's. Notes via text.

Served in a pint.

Pours dark and pretty thick like last years. The smell is a bit sweeter and the hops and smoke seems less than last years. The taste is much sweeter and creamier. Hops are still at a good level but not quite a potent as before which is probably an improvement. The smoky/meaty character is much lower but still in the back. I liked the stronger smoke =. The body is much creamier and smoother than from the bottle last year. Above average drinkability but not as good drinkable at Ktg. Very good.

pwoods, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of AylwinForbes
4.72/5  rDev +4.9%

Unlike the similarly cultish Dark Lord, the Darkness is at least obtainable. Surprisingly, we have been supping it locally for a few weeks now; I was worried it would have disappeared the first tapping night.

Anyway, to the beverage. Exceptionally dark, black as night, tho tempered by a tinge of burnt umber. The head is relatively thin with slight foaminess and is dark brown.

The aroma is arresting; a warm, complex but balanced combination of hop, espresso roast, dark chocolate, malt.

The smoothness is shocking: no hard edges or strong statements, but a gorgeous, luxurious, rich but subtle concoction. Not overly sweet like perhaps the Goose Island Bourbon Stout inclines to. The espresso bite reigns it in there. You don't want to pour this over ice cream; you want to savour and sip it.

This has a complex flavour profile that would put many much more expensive wines to shame, yet we are drinking for a fraction of the cost.

AylwinForbes, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%

Sampled on tap at the Grumpy Bulldog in Naperville. Was pretty surprised to see this on the beer menu here but very very happy that is was.

Served in a pint glass.

A: Black. One and a half inch, thick, coffee and chocolate colored head. While Darkness has Dark Lord beat in terms of head retention and lacing, both of which are very nice and rather surprising to see in a beer this size, Dark Lord wins out for sheer viscosity. I could swirl beer in the glass and could still see though it afterwards, still remains as one of the better looking imperial stouts out there today.

S: Again fantastic. Hops are a very big part of this beer but not so much so that they overpower everything else. This beer is still able to muscle across some incredibly creamy aromas that mixes wonderfully together with the sweet, chocolaty, dark fruitiness of the beer.

T/MF: This is where things get interesting. Super sweet and creamy, at once bitter, at once sweet, perfectly balanced. There are times when I want to imagine that there is bourbon and coffee in this beer but on taking another sip it just doesn't taste that way. It's like some combination of boozy chocolate and coffee and cream mixed with candied, almost over-ripe fruits covered in brown sugar and caramel. Put this way the beer sounds revolting, overly sweet and perhaps undrinkable, but an underlying bitterness keeps things from becoming a cloyingly sweet, sugary mess. Mouthfeel helps out here as well, not really all that thick, at least compared to some of the jacked up imperial stouts out there. Incredibly smooth, velvety almost, though could stand to be a little fuller, chewier, to be more specific.

D: I could drink this until my body forced me to stop. The beer was gone before I really even felt like I got to know it. The balance that this beer displays makes drinking it so easy that you almost forget about how complex it is, a beer to pay attention to, seek out, and always try again. Fantastic.

bluemoonswoon, Nov 20, 2008
Photo of Deuane
3.78/5  rDev -16%

A 2008 bottle thanks to Erdinger2003. Shared with akorsak and Ffejherb.

A-Deep black with a medium tan head that receded to a thin ring that left decent lace.

S-Chocolate malt with hints of licorice and a bit of coffee. Mild spicy hops notes. A light bit of soy in the background.

T-Chocolate and light coffee up front. Rich, roasty malt with a smoky character. An odd flavour persists in the back that I just can't put my finger on.

M-Full bodied, smooth and quite slick. Nice lingering bitterness.

D-Complex and big bodied but compared to last years version I was a bit let down. I was hoping for the fresh hop/massive dark roasty malt bomb and this is not it. What happened? Nothing about this years offering really excited me. Good...but lacking.

Deuane, Nov 20, 2008
Photo of Sammy
3.98/5  rDev -11.6%

Caught up with this at the Blue Nile in Minny. Black with huge off-beige head. Hoppy RIS.Sourness in first sip. The bitterness builds up, flows over the sugary finish. Integrated coffee, sugar to make it coffee liquor acceptable?ABove average mouthfeel. Better as warms up, was served a bit on cold side.

Sammy, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of Goliath
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%

A huge thanks goes out to Bobby91w for this one.

Shared with friends.

Pours almost completely black and opaque, but has some very small ruby edges. A thin layer of light brown head forms on top and quickly dissipates. The head has poor retention, but left a little bit of lacing behind.

The nose is pretty nice. It seems fairly hoppy actually. Kind of citrusy, herbal, and spicey. Some roasty malts, and a bit of fruit as well are available on the nose.

The taste is ok, but a bit of a let down for this cowboy. A bit of hops, and some flavors I'm having trouble putting my finger on. It seemed kind of earthy to me, fruity, and a bit woody. It was really interesting. I was getting some molases as well. I was going to give it a 4 for taste, but I'm going to bump it to 4.5 since I think they've achieved something really new here. So many RIS's have the exact same flavor profile, but this at least has something new to offer and I really appreciate that.

The mouth is full bodied, and fairly creamy. It was lightly carbonated.

Drinkability is moderate to high. It was tasty, and the booziness was masked and incorporated well enough. Overall, I'm pretty pleased but slightly disappointed.

Goliath, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of number1bum
4.08/5  rDev -9.3%

On tap at The Map Room, Chicago, IL.

10z glass was pitch black with a dark khaki head, which left a nice amount of stick and kept a thin lace.

Smell was very malty, with sweet chocolate aromas, some molasses and caramel, and dark fruit. Taste was also quite sweet, with chocolate and roasted malt flavors, lots of caramel and chocolate sweetness. Good amount of dark fruit, too, like maybe figs and plums. I found it to be maybe a tad too sweet, which took away from the drinkability for me. It was rich and full bodied, chewy and creamy. Overall a very good, very tasty beer. Glad I got to try this on tap.

number1bum, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of bainard
4/5  rDev -11.1%

A - Onyx with a 1/2" tan head. Really nice look to this brew. Looks like a big RIS.

S - Smoke, fruit (grapefruit and peach, maybe?), and roast. Some coffee. The candi sugar starts to become VERY prevalent.

T - Though it opens very well, with flavors of vanilla and coffee, it starts almost too tart and too sweet, as if the candi sugar is dragging an otherwise great beer down. The warming gives you an idea of why the Belgian sugar is used in this brew. It's extremely unique and forward, but it could definitely use some mellowing.

M - The creaminess here is something most other brews would beg for.

D - The alcohol is there, of course, but it doesn't feel like a 10.3% beer. It's a really nice beer and worth every penny, but I believe this vintage just seemed too young to really appreciate right off the bat. I have a bottle that I'll be cellaring, and I'm quite sure this review will improve after I enjoy that.

bainard, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of srandycarter
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%

A - Darkness is right! GEez, black as all get out, heavy mocha head, about 1.5 inch, leaves slowly. Webby, sticky lacing. Best looking RIS I have seen in some time.

S - Light Soy quality, milk chocolate and something smoky and savory, thick and meaty, to the back end.

T - Perfect. It can't do better. Thick, wonderful, smoky malt, loaded with milk chocolate but held in balance to an almost clean finish. Wow.

M - Creamy, heavy, coating, carb and balance pretty near perfect. Lip smacking good.

D - A beer like this is sippin and kickin - not for session.

srandycarter, Nov 18, 2008
Darkness (2006 - 2013) from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,651 ratings.